Hydrangeas are a summer flower standout—no matter how you arrange them.
Advertisement

With their massive mop heads and array of color options, hydrangeas are a summer garden staple. While hydrangea flowers last forever on the shrub, they're prone to wilting once they're taken off the plant. This makes them a little tricky to use in your flower arrangements.

Fortunately, with a few ideas and tricks, you can create a show-stopping hydrangea bouquet that'll look lovely for days.

How to Pick and Prep Hydrangea

If you're using homegrown hydrangeas in your floral arrangement, pick them when the plant is well-hydrated. "Water your shrubs well a day or two before you pick the flowers," says Amy Gofton, floral designer at Studio Nectar in Montclair, New Jersey. "Pick your flowers early in morning, before moisture starts to evaporate in the heat of the day."

Look for the more mature flowers where the florets are opened, rather than the newest blooms. "They're more hardened off to the elements, so they won't wilt as easily," Gofton says.

Keeping your hydrangeas looking good is all about the preparation. To start, cut the stems at a 45-degree angle and slice up into the stem in a cross pattern to open more of it to the water for hydration. "A couple of slits give you the access you need for a fuller drinking surface," Gofton says.

To really hydrate your blooms, submerge them completely, head first, into a tub or deep pail of water for at least 45 minutes, up to overnight.

As with other flowers, remove leaves—especially those that will be below the water line—and change out the water often to prevent bacteria growth that could shorten their longevity.

Tips for Arranging Hydrangea at Home

Those bold hydrangea blooms are top-heavy, which means they can easily flop out of a vase. Hydrangeas are also prone to wilting, but there are some strategies you can use to keep your arrangements looking fresh—especially if you're displaying them outdoors in hot weather. Here are few florist tricks of the trade to tame your flowers and make a beautiful hydrangea arrangement that will last.

Use Tools to Keep the Blooms in Place

"You need to have some structure and space between each flower head—it's nice when they don't look squished together," Gofton says. "When you're creating a mass arrangement, use tape to create a grid on the top of the vase, or create a chicken wire nest inside the vase. That'll allow you to create space and just a smidge of air around each flower head."

Opaque Containers Are Best

Clear vases won't hide any chicken wire or tape you use to corral your flowers, so opaque containers work best. You'll also want to consider how big your arrangement may become. If you have a large mass of hydrangeas in your arrangement, look for wider containers.

Pair with Complementary Flowers

For a mixed-flower arrangement, look for bold blooms that can match the hydrangeas in size and scale. "I like them with other summer flowers—they have a very synergistic, seasonal appeal to me," Gofton says. "If you normally find them growing together, it's comforting to see them paired together."

Flowers like roses, peonies, and dahlias have the dramatic presence to hold their own. "Lilacs have the same kind of multi-floret, fluffy heads, so even though they have dainty flowers like hydrangeas, the overall impression is a larger bloom," Gofton says.

Delphiniums, foxgloves, and other spire-shaped blooms work beautifully, too. "They shoot tall out of the mass of hydrangeas, so they draw your eye up, as opposed to getting lost in the mass," Gofton says.

Jazz Up an All-Hydrangea Bouquet

If you're sticking with just hydrangeas in your arrangement, look for ways to add visual interest. One of the coolest hydrangea arranging ideas is to use different shades to create an ombre effect in the bouquet. "That way, you get the definition of different flower tufts and shade bands—white, pale green, pale blue, purple," Gofton says.

Minimize Wilting With Ice Cubes

"To help with wilting, put ice cubes into the water," Gofton says. "The ice cubes melt in and help keep flower stems cool." Misting your arrangements with a spray bottle of water will help rejuvenate them so they can last to the end of your party.

Dry the Blooms to Last for Months

Drying hydrangeas lets you have a more permanent (and still lovely) arrangement. Gofton dries her hydrangeas by putting them in a vase with good air circulation and a ½-inch of water at the bottom, then stashing them out of direct sunlight in a cooler part of the house and letting them slowly dry.

Some dried hydrangeas—especially white hues—can brown a bit when dried, but they look gorgeous sprayed with metallic paint and used to adorn Christmas trees or wreaths.